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Leaving a "Footprint" - Light One Candle

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January 7th, 2012

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03:15 pm - Leaving a "Footprint"
Slight warning: metaphor/comparison behind the cut. :)

In this day of hyper-ecological awareness, we talk a lot about the evils of leaving an environmental “footprint,” and ways in which we may strive to contain this. Reduce, reuse, recycle; ride your bike to cut down on emissions, turn off your lights to conserve the energy we're producing, and, you know, don't buy a private jet.

Sometimes I get frustrated with this preaching, because it's taken so far. People speak as if they wish they could live without impacting the world around them at all--as if they wish they could live without breathing or eating or defecating or bearing children. I'm temped to ask, if that's what they want, then why don't they just die and thus ensure they will never leave that footprint?

Because as long as we exist, we make an impact. That's the very nature of existence.

And yet it's not only our environmental impact we strive to contain. Some of us have learned to limit our emotional and relational “footprint” as well.

I grew up in a conservative Christian community. I learned that to be polite and self-effacing was a way of being unselfish. That such behavior was valuable because it spoke to our willingness to put others' needs above our own.

I didn't believe we ought to make waves (unless perhaps we could back up those waves with research). I'd seen too many overbearing people making enemies by their obnoxious ranting.

I didn't believe that I had a right to be heard, much less that I had a duty to speak up, to act. I learned to listen and empathize with others, but not to ask them to do the same for me.

I didn't believe that I was worthy to live in a way that could expect to make a direct impact.

That would leave footprints behind me.

But that's who we are as human beings. It's what God calls us to as his children. We are to be living, shining lights; you can't do that if you're hiding yourself, even your needs and longings. We are to be God incarnate; you can't do that if you're busy making yourself invisible around other people. We are to love others; you can't do that if you don't let them love you, and know you.

If any of this strikes a chord with you, I have a challenge for you in this new year: dare to make your emotional footprint bigger.

Stand up. Spread your wings.

Shout, wail, sing, dance, be loud, be close, contaminate the world around you with the beauty and gold dust that you shed. Hug more people. Jump into more conversations. Ask more questions, ones that invite thinking rather than just answering.

You exist. Don't let that fact be swallowed up in the desire to be “selfless.” Be bold, be strong, be yourself--for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative

(10 lit candles | Light a candle)


[User Picture]
Date:January 8th, 2012 01:19 am (UTC)
contaminate the world around you with the beauty and gold dust that you shed.

When are you gonna write that book? *pokes you* I haven't found a devotional yet that gets right to my heart the way that your writing does.

[User Picture]
Date:January 9th, 2012 03:46 am (UTC)
Ha! :)

I am actually working on something like a book, in my spare time. The problem is that these little meditations are short, all one thought; for a book, I need some sort of theme. And I have one, now, but I'm not at all sure how to put it together. So it might be a while.

I'm really glad these speak to you so. It thrills me that I can make that kind of impact.
[User Picture]
Date:January 8th, 2012 02:41 am (UTC)
I get a sudden image of my parents and I practicing a song in four part, and I keep telling my mom to be louder. "They have to hear you!" She has a lovely voice, but is terrified of being heard.

In choir, blending is important. You mustn't "stick out". People think that means you're not heard, but that's wrong. If you're not being heard, there's no point to an ensemble.

I'm a "strong singer", which means that though I don't stick out, I influence the people around me. The power of my voice is such that I "insist" on staying in tune, staying in rhythm, and singing the right vowels with the right tone. Weaker singers follow my lead.

The best ensembles are made up entirely of strong singers. Because strong singers hold their own, there's no leaning or dragging. Thus they can do incredible things. They can sing three rhythms at once, or in sixteen parts in perfect harmony. But you have to have a certain level of confidence and strength - of independence and the willingness to break away and do something different - to make that happen.

(Ooo, bit rambly there. Hope it was coherent.)
[User Picture]
Date:January 8th, 2012 03:11 am (UTC)
Oh, thank you for saying that. It clarifies an important distinction that I had been struggling with.

I was in a choir for several years; and I am not only a ‘strong singer’ but rather a loud one as well. However, the choir director was happy to have me, because the choir was woefully short of tenors. One time I had to sing the tenor part all by myself, because the rest of the tenors had gone down together to take Communion. Having to do that rather terrified me, but apparently I didn’t make a total hash of it.
[User Picture]
Date:January 8th, 2012 03:14 am (UTC)
P.S. I note with delight that your interest list includes Edmund Pevensie and Sarah Jane Smith. Mind if I friend you?
[User Picture]
Date:January 9th, 2012 06:21 pm (UTC)
Absolutely! Thank you!
[User Picture]
Date:January 9th, 2012 03:42 am (UTC)
Oh, I like this! Because it takes the truth of what I wrote, and the truth of what I was taught, and blends them together. Synthesis. :) Thank you!
[User Picture]
Date:January 8th, 2012 03:15 am (UTC)
Thank you very much for that. It’s something that I have long needed to hear.
[User Picture]
Date:January 9th, 2012 03:44 am (UTC)
You are very, very welcome.
[User Picture]
Date:January 8th, 2012 07:24 am (UTC)

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